There were a whole lot of tears at the ABA’s largest ticketed event, the Margaret Brent Awards Luncheon, which honors the legal achievements of five women annually.
“It’s so inspirational,” said Judith Kaye, a former chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals and now of counsel at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in New York. “Everyone leaves feeling uplifted.”
This year’s winners included Judge Arnette Hubbard of Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago, Judge Vanessa Ruiz of the D.C. Court of Appeals, attorney Loretta Tuell of the Washington firm Anderson Tuell, Linda Addison, the New York partner-in-charge at Fulbright & Jaworski, and Helaine Barnett, president of the Legal Services Corp.
The women’s career and personal profiles were sketched in a thick glossy program and on individual videos broadcast during the lunch followed by their speeches. Law firms and legal organizations, including Squire Sanders, Baker & McKenzie, and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, purchased tables for the event.
Kaye and friends with whom she attended the event, including Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson partner Ann Lesk of New York, said that one of the remarkable things about this year’s winners was that they are all mothers, disproving the notion that women have to choose between career and family. The level of achievement in the group demonstrated how far women have come in the profession in the last 20 years, Lesk said.
Have they come far enough? “No,” Lesk and Kaye snapped.
“Yes, women have advanced, but not to an acceptable degree, by a long shot,” Kaye said.